Become a Surrogate Mother: To Be or Not to Be
Congratulations for Considering to Become a Surrogate Mother
It’s amazing you are thinking about it. It takes a pretty special woman who will consider the prospect of carrying a baby for someone unable to do so. Actually, it takes a lot of courage and it takes a lot of heart. So, again, congratulations for getting this far! But here it comes: the reality check. Is wanting to become a surrogate enough? We are going to explore the process in more detail, and explore this journey without “rose colored glasses” so to speak. We are going take an honest look at the process and what you need to consider before jumping in and what you should be prepared for should you take the leap.
What are the requirements that the advertisements don’t usually list? Well, they are:
Time it Takes to Become a Surrogate
Surrogates are moms, often of young children, so life is busy. When you start out thinking about the joy and rewards that becoming a surrogate would mean to someone unable to have a child and the personal rewards for you and your family to be able realize your own dreams and goals, it sounds like a fantastic plan. After all, you got pregnant easily, you had smooth complication-free pregnancies, you felt great much of the time. Easy breezy, right? Well, like most everything in life, the answer is not black and white: it’s yes and no. Our surrogate moms express having an experience that was way beyond even their own expectations going in. Our surrogates often described their journey as a totally mind-blowing, awesome, experience of a lifetime which turned out to be one of their absolute top proudest moments. Like when the pregnancy test comes back positive and surro mom is Skyping with her Intended Parents. Our surro moms often tell us :“if you could only have seen the look in their eyes”. Or when the 20 week ultrasound rolls around and that little peanut is now a tiny itty bitty person with fingers and toes and a face with a nose and eyes and mouth and chin. “Oh my God, she has my nose” cries one of the Intended Parents. And then, there is the day you deliver that bundle of love, and joy into the hands of your Intended Parents. This is an incredible, awesome moment you will never ever forget. There is a star in the heavens with your name on it. This is the stuff of life at its best. When understanding that in life it sometimes “takes a village,” some heart and some soul and you have been blessed to be a part of that miracle.
The thing is that like most things in life, the journey to these moments of pure elation and joy requires some blood, sweat and tears. The journey will take your time which is often in short supply in the hectic, busy lives of our surro moms. So you ask, “what is it that takes so much time?” Well, first, this is not like your natural pregnancies. There is an application and questionnaire – it’s long. There is the screening process, which involves medical screening requiring review of all your medical records from ob/gyn and delivery for each of your children. Then there are lab tests, more forms for the fertility clinic, ultrasound, medical examination. Your spouse or significant other must complete lab tests too. Then there is the psychological assessment. For this, you need to meet with a psychologist and take a loooong questionnaire, receive counseling (along with your spouse or significant other) to make sure you understand and are ready to be a surrogate.
Courage it Takes to Become a Surrogate Mom
Those questionnaires you complete for us and the interview with the psychologist we mentioned above? They don’t just take time but they can also take some courage. Some questions may hit upon issues or times in your life that were challenging and difficult and may include personal issues or legal issues you faced. And you are being asked to share these things with relative strangers. That’s why finding the right agency is so important. You need to feel safe and not judged in this process. Sometimes the process may feel so bureaucratic and formal that surro candidates decide to match independently. There are quite a few downsides to doing an independent surrogacy which should be considered.
So, you might be asking yourself at this point, so what is she talking about? Courage? What questions are asked? Well, besides the basic name, age, address, phone number type of questions, we ask about your education, your work history, your health history, your parents, grandparents, siblings and children’s healthy histories. We ask about criminal and legal history of you and your spouse or significant other. Then we get into biographical questions about your life including childhood. Now, does this mean we are looking for the perfect woman? No. There is no such person. Human beings are not perfect. Repeat: human beings are not perfect. Every woman has a different story to tell, different experiences, lessons learned, mistakes and we need to talk about them as openly as possible and just see if any past issues are going to prevent you from becoming a surrogate. It starts with open dialogue and open dialogue starts with a environment where you feel you can openly an honestly talk about your life and your experiences. But we understand that this takes courage and it can be stressful.
What are the Basic Requirements to Become a Surrogate and Who Dreams These Up?
You will notice on websites, posts, listservs, these lists, pretty much the same, of what the basic requirements for becoming a surrogate. Typically, they include:
- Between ages of 21 and 41 (actually can be older but must be evaluated on case by case basis)
- Have given birth without complications during pregnancy and delivery to at least one child
- BMI of 31 or less
- Healthy Lifestyle
- Don’t smoke or abuse alcohol nor take illicit drugs
- Stable Lifestyle
- Have Reliable transportation
You might ask if surrogacy agencies dream up these requirements? The answer is no. The American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) sets standards for the industry and recommends these requirements be met. The vast majority of fertility doctors follow these standards.
Patience of a Saint
Looking at all the stuff outlined above, you probably are starting to get it that this takes time just getting to even thinking about the pregnancy. And we did not even talk about the contracting process after you successfully complete your screening. There is quite a bit of hurry up and wait. That’s why we like to talk to women who are inquiring about why they should not be counting on the compensation they will eventually receive as a mainstay of their income. Surrogate candidates need to be financially stable because it can take months to get to the point where they are receiving compensation which is typically starting with confirmation of fetal heartbeat approximately six to seven weeks after the embryo transfer.
Dedication of An Olympian
In a nutshell becoming a surrogate takes dedication. It’s a heck of a lot of responsibility to carry another person’s baby and you have to be truly dedicated to meet the challenge of this process. If you think you’ve got what it takes then you can join the ranks of a very special group of women who are earning their angel wings every day.
Rewards are Incredible
In exchange for all your time, courage, patience and dedication, you will have done something in life which is truly amazing and the personal joys that come with knowing that will last a lifetime. You are going to receive generous compensation and benefits that can amount up to $50,000 or more and you can put that to good use in realizing your own dreams for you and your family.
Are you ready to make the leap of a lifetime?
- From Infertility to Adoption or Surrogacy: Making the Transition
- Five Questions to Ask a Surrogacy Agency After You Have Asked the Basics